Springingtiger's Blog


What a Piece of Work is Rabbit

A sequel to yesterday’s post ‘What a Piece Of Work Is Man’

I like who I am, I really do, but it hasn’t always been that way. I think it was sometime in my fifties, back when my hair reached my waist and my beard, my chest that I looked in the mirror and actually saw me. Who else might I have seen? As funny as it may sound and it may cancel my vote, I always used to see a stranger, I rarely felt like I was the person in the mirror. One day I looked in the mirror and was comfortable with whom I saw, less than a year later, I completed my rituals and cut off my hair and trimmed my beard. These days when I look in the mirror I recognise who looks back as me. Okay, that doesn’t include those times when I disappear my head from my reflection…actually I suppose it does (I almost said ‘on reflection’).

When I was five I wanted to be a ballerina. I had a little china statue of a ballerina with a real fabric tutu and I loved her. All went well until I told my parents when it was made very clear to me that boys cannot be ballerinas. My mother was very kind and said I could become a ballet dancer like Rudolph Nureyev, but I didn’t want to be Rudolph Nureyev, I wanted to be Margot Fonteyn! After I first saw the film Calamity Jane on television I wanted to be Doris Day, I knew better than to tell anyone. There was a time I wanted to be Julie Newmar, but only as Catwoman. Don’t get me wrong, I am a chap and I know it, even if I may not have liked it I never, ever, thought I was female. There were particular women I wanted to be, but I didn’t want to be a woman. Even now it’s far too much work to be a woman and it was worse back then. I never suffered from gender dysphoria, it might be fair to say I suffered from occasional gender envy. I wanted to be Emma Peel, with my lack of gracefulness those heels would have killed me so it’s just as well I couldn’t.

Unfortunately there are those who really are born into the wrong body and know that somehow their plumbing is all wrong. They don’t suffer the occasional twinge of gender envy, for them their whole identity is under assault. Some cannot, despite the prejudices of society, do other than live as who they really are. Some like Lili Elbe even died to become truly themselves. There was a time when gender reassignment surgery was new, difficult and dangerous, I gather from my enquiries that it is still far from being an easy option. There are others who having become unquestionably the man or woman they know themselves to be feel no need to go under the knife, they recognise themselves and those who matter recognise them.

I have nothing but admiration for those men and women who refuse to be ruled by the genitals they were born with and instead choose to become themselves. Who survive the bullying, let’s be clear this is something they live with throughout their childhood even when they are too young to understand what gender is and a little boy or girl who insists on being the opposite, gets hurt. Gets hurt again and again. Some cannot live through growing up, but there are some who do and hold fast and they should be honoured, at the very least respected and their choices honoured. These men and women are heroes, real heroes who have faced hell and prevailed.

Today our world is a little more forgiving and tolerant than when I was young and young people with gender dysphoria can in some places receive the help and support they deserve, but even now it is not easy and role models still thin on the ground. I was delighted to come across the video blog of Isabella Bunny Bennett, better known as Rabbit from Steampowered Giraffe. In January she proudly announced that she had legally become Isabella Bunny Bennett. From mid July 2014 she has been posting a frank, no holds barred, frequently funny, often poignant Vlog of her transformation from a (rather dishy) man into an attractive young woman. It is a very courageous thing to do and makes the process and the emotions attached visible and accessible. Anyone who knows someone who is transgendered will find this series of films fascinating, I think anyone who is considering a gender change should watch it. In fact anyone interested in the phenomenon of ‘human being’ should find it interesting. It has been a journey, one easier to watch than make. Bunny’s generosity in sharing something so personal is deeply moving and were I younger she would enter my pantheon beside Margot Fonteyn and Doris Day…oh what the heck? Bunny’s in there too!

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